Tuesday, February 07, 2012


Obscurity of the Day: Jim Steele

Mel Tapley tried to keep up with black cartooning powerhouse Ollie Harrington by launching his own hard-boiled adventure strip to compete with Jive Gray. Jim Steele started off as a war strip in 1943, and then switched to general adventure storylines after the war ended. Steele's fight against racism was a recurring motif in the boisterous, two-fisted tales.

The black papers had one heck of a time with continuity strips. Even the major papers with national audiences could not seem to manage to run continuity strips on a regular basis or in proper order. I don't know if it was faulty distribution, lateness paying syndicate bills or what, but trying to follow a story in any of these strips, and there were others in addition to Jive and Steele, was a pretty hopeless task. It's a wonder they gained any popularity at all. What a treasure it would be to find a nice run of proof sheets for strips like these.

Jim Steele's earliest appearance that I've yet found is in the Philadelphia Tribune on April 24 1943. It ran through the auspices of Continental Features and its latest known appearances are in 1947.


Looks like he was influenced by Milt Caniff. The one character even looks a little like the Dragon Lady.
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